Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 80

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 80

New on OTPbooks.com: Marc Halpern on helping your clients make better food choices.

Utah doesn’t seem to know it is spring yet. It rains every day and the skies are gray. I’m heading off to the University of Texas this weekend, then off to Sweden, so I know what I will face when I come back:

100-degree heat and a baked lawn.

Here in Utah, we tend to have summer and winter. Spring and autumn are just suggestions.

My training is going very well through all of the water runoff. I’m taking some good advice: don’t train yourself. Mike Warren Brown has me on two-week blocks alternating big grinding weeks with double kettlebells with two weeks of explosive work. It is a miracle to see the progress. Thanks, Mike!

A caveat about this newsletter: these are just things I find interesting on the ‘net. I don’t necessarily condemn or condone these readings; these articles just make me think. I have been self-editing a bunch out because I don’t want more readers complaining about this or that.

But, next week: less self-editing. This week, I found myself wandering a bit more than usual.

I enjoy cooking, but sometimes when I read stuff on cooking, I get lost in the language.I did like this article, but you can see what I mean:

“A soffritto is a cooked battuto, mostly a mixture of pancetta or lardo and vegetables. It is a vital part of many Italian dishes. A soffritto must be watched and stirred with care while it is cooking. Two minutes longer watching the telly and your soffritto becomes a burnt mess. I always add a pinch of salt when I saute the onion (usually the first ingredient to go into the pan), because the salt releases the liquid in the onion, thus preventing it from burning.”

If you have a few minutes, this video is inspiring.

“Found a golf club when I was three.”

I thought this article was interesting. I always wondered about wisdom teeth and this article expands upon those four teeth and more.

“Pheromone detection. The Vomeronasal organ appears to be still present in 92% of humans but is non-functional, despite what some commercials claim.”

I don’t agree with the following article, but I found the reading fascinating. I agree with Milton Friedman that we are all “Free to Choose.” But, this article strongly disagrees.

“’We need our beliefs to track what is true,’ Harris told me. Illusions, no matter how well intentioned, will always hold us back. For example, we currently use the threat of imprisonment as a crude tool to persuade people not to do bad things. But if we instead accept that ‘human behavior arises from neurophysiology,’ he argued, then we can better understand what is really causing people to do bad things despite this threat of punishment—and how to stop them. ‘We need,’ Harris told me, ‘to know what are the levers we can pull as a society to encourage people to be the best version of themselves they can be.’”

“According to Harris, we should acknowledge that even the worst criminals—murderous psychopaths, for example—are in a sense unlucky. ‘They didn’t pick their genes. They didn’t pick their parents. They didn’t make their brains, yet their brains are the source of their intentions and actions.’ In a deep sense, their crimes are not their fault. Recognizing this, we can dispassionately consider how to manage offenders in order to rehabilitate them, protect society, and reduce future offending. Harris thinks that, in time, ‘it might be possible to cure something like psychopathy,’ but only if we accept that the brain, and not some airy-fairy free will, is the source of the deviancy.”

I think Lyle McDonald just came out with this. For those of you who missed the “Bulgarian” approach: congrats. You can do things like walk up stairs and comb your hair. He makes a brilliant point here.

“If doing triple the training gives you that additional 10%, and you just happen to be within 10% of the top, this matters. This still assumes that you don’t break from the training but up to the point that you do, more training gets you slightly (again, almost exponentially decreasing) results and this matters when that 1% is the difference between first and third place.

“But if you’re not within that 10% or less of the top it doesn’t make any difference what you do and whether or not you do the minimal or maximal training.  Because the simple fact is that suck + 10% still equals suck.  If you’re never gonna get past suck (and realistically if you’re not getting pretty close to not suck by year 3 you’re never getting there), just accept it and get on with your life.  Go find other things to do like having a life, going to the park, spending time usefully getting laid or arguing with me on Facebook instead of toiling away in the gym 7 days a week when you’ll never get past suck anyhow.  Taking your squat from 315 to 335 because you trained 12 times as much as before is not a good return on investment (ROI).  If you’re squatting 900, 10% matters.  Most of the people who get fascinated with Bulgarian Training are not.”

Robert Gummerson sent me this clip, Charlie Rose interviewing Bill Murray.

Fascinating interview…I think it is well worth the hour of your day. He has no agent, by the way, no “people.” I thought that was fascinating.

“The available thing.”

Ashley Palmer has been writing some great stuff lately. This article opens up something that is a cornerstone of my training.

“If you want to enjoy your exercise more (and get better results) an important key is to find your community. Even if your preference is going it alone, there are huge benefits to being part of a group.

“A 2011 study by David Renjilian and colleagues revealed a shocking discovery: they found 75 participants who had a strong preference for either group weight loss therapy or individual weight loss therapy, then divided them equally among individual and group therapies. Half of the participants who wanted individual got group therapy and half who wanted group therapy got individual.

“What they found was that across the board, those who participated in group therapy had better results, losing an average of 5 more pounds over 6 months than those who participated in individual therapy, regardless of what their preference was.

“Finding a community may be super easy for extremely outgoing extroverted types, but for more shy or introverted people, it may be even more dreaded than exercise itself for a couple of reasons.”

As long as we are in Ashley’s blog, this article ties together starvation studies with most diets. It is NOT a good idea!

“‘Most of the subjects experienced periods of severe emotional distress and depression. There were extreme reactions to the psychological effects during the experiment including self-mutilation (one subject amputated three fingers of his hand with an axe, though the subject was unsure if he had done so intentionally or accidentally). Participants exhibited a preoccupation with food, both during the starvation period and the rehabilitation phase. Sexual interest was drastically reduced, and the volunteers showed signs of social withdrawal and isolation. The participants reported a decline in concentration, comprehension and judgment capabilities, although the standardized tests administered showed no actual signs of diminished capacity. There were marked declines in physiological processes indicative of decreases in each subject’s basal metabolic rate (the energy required by the body in a state of rest), reflected in reduced body temperature, respiration and heart rate.”

“Considering the difference between male and female calorie intake, it wouldn’t be surprising to see similar results when females eat only 1200 calories per day.”

In a way, this article should be connected to the evolution article above, but this deserves a close read. Maybe the raw food movement is right, but we were also taught that fire gave humans a chance to get more nourishment and let our brains grow. So, as always, it is a give and take. I will take my steak medium rare.

“The first, interestingly enough, is that it has resulted in more dental problems. When we chew, we generate forces that act on our jaws, and the bones in our jaws grow in response. Less chewing means less developed jaws.

“’There’s pretty good evidence showing that people who chew less and chew less hard grow smaller jaws,’ Lieberman said. ‘The problem is they tend to have the same size teeth, and that creates all sorts of problems, like crowding and impacted wisdom teeth, which used to be incredibly rare.’

“The second and considerably more problematic consequence is that even the earliest form of food processing has probably contributed to obesity. When you process food, whether by cooking it or simply cutting it into smaller pieces, you tend to get more energy out of it relative to the energy expended processing and digesting it. So we now get more calories from the same amount of food than we used to, even though it’s no more satiating. Surely, Lieberman said, that helps explain why we’re eating so many more calories than we used to.”

Oddly, this article seems to indicate we are hard wired to eat food in smaller bites.

“A pilot study conducted at eight schools found that fruit consumption jumped by more than 60 percent when apples were served sliced. And a follow-up study, conducted at six other schools, not only confirmed the finding, but further strengthened it: Both overall apple consumption and the percentage of students who ate more than half of the apple that was served to them were more than 70 percent higher at schools that served sliced apples.

“‘It sounds simplistic, but even the simplest forms of inconvenience affect consumption,’ said David Just, a professor of behavioral economics at Cornell who studies consumer food choices, and one of the study’s author. ‘Sliced apples just make a lot more sense for kids.'”

In a conversation with a friend, he asked if I knew about Laird Hamilton. Of course, I do, but this article gives some insights.

“But don’t be a zealot: I have a saying: ‘Everything in moderation, including moderation.’ I make it achievable, not stressful for me and people around me. I’ll use a little coconut sugar. … I’ve got friends who have to stick [to a particular diet] at all times, and the stress of that almost overrides the quality of the way you eat. My eating is not such a hassle that I can’t go anywhere.”

Maybe Laird is not a zealot, but I can’t agree with the baking soda, but the rest of the diet makes sense to me.

“One of those things that doesn’t sound right, even though it is, is the idea that eating fat doesn’t make you fat. The biggest and most fundamental change Hamilton has made over the years was to embrace the necessity of fat, and to eliminate as much sugar as possible from his diet. He’s even cut down the amount of fruit he eats, stressing that fruit is meant to be eaten seasonally and not stockpiled year-round. That’s a huge shift in anyone’s diet, but he eased into it. ‘The biggest mistake anyone can make is being too strict. That stress far outweighs the value of what you’re doing. There’s a disciplined way to do things.’

Tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in water
Espresso with coconut oil

During the day 
Turmeric juice

Fish with roasted cauliflower and arugula salad

Beef vegetable stew

Finally, a fellow Aggie is making a name for himself. Jerry Rice’s conditioning coach was an Aggie and so was Al Vermeil. I am sure there are others, but I am wondering if not having everything, like we find at Utah State, opens the brain up for some clearer thinking.

“Also known as the ‘trap-bar’ deadlift, it gets its name from the hexagonal-shaped bar the lifter steps into, effectively allowing him to center himself over the weights (see above). Unlike a traditional straight-bar deadlift, a lift using the uniquely shaped hex-bar takes pressure off the lifter’s spine, lower back, and hamstrings. Also, because of the more balanced range of motion, out of every lift in the gym, it’s the one on which your body can lift the most weight. (Yes, even more than a squat.) Because the hex bar is so efficient, every rep utilizes 90% of skeletal muscle.

“What’s more, these are the same muscles you rely on to run, jump high, and explode upward, fighting gravity.

“When he ran the numbers, Flaherty found that the Force Number calculated from a one-rep max for the hex-bar deadlift yielded the exact same correlation as the ratio derived from force-plate treadmill numbers. He also discovered that the bigger your hex-bar deadlift, the bigger your Force Number. In other words: Congrats! You’re a better athlete. (For the record, Jamaican sprinter and reigning world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, holds the highest Force Number ever recorded: 3.9.)”

Somewhere, my brother Gary is saying: “I told you so.”

Until next week, eat fat and veggies, do your Trap Bar deadlift in community because you have no free will, and keep lifting and learning.


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